I’ve recently been thinking about the lyrics to the song ‘Transfiguration’, in particular the line “I am changed, changing still,” and the paradox it is to live that way. We are changed and yet we’re still changing. We are His workmanship and we’re still a work in progress.
Paul references this same paradox in 2Cor 3:18:
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” NIV
We contemplate (or reflect) the LORD’s glory NOW and are BEING transformed into His image. We reflect His glory and yet still need ongoing transformation. We are His masterpiece and yet we need more work. We are complete in Him and still being made whole…
SEE ALSO: BEING A FRIEND OF GOD
So how do we live with this paradox? How do live with those tensions?
There is insight in the same verse 2 Cor 3:18.
Firstly we need to live with unveiled faces.
In the story of Exodus, Moses would meet with God face to face and the glory was so overwhelming that he would wear a veil… Paul also suggests that the veil then covered the fading glory. We however have had the veil removed and we need to live like that!
I know we sometimes don’t like to be seen, so we hide behind the veil, or we want people to see something different so we wear a mask. Or we may only want people to see from afar so we distance ourselves, but He removed the veil… SO THAT PEOPLE CAN SEE.
The veil has been removed so that people can see His workmanship, His likeness being formed right before their eyes. He wants people to see His glory increasing in us so that they in turn give glory to Him. Maybe He is more glorified when people see the Master at work in us than when we try to present a ‘finished’ work for Him. Imagine how awe inspiring it would have been to see Da Vinci or Michelangelo at work; to watch the wonder of a masterpiece being fashioned before your eyes – how glorious! How we would marvel at the master. How much more would people be in awe of The Master if they could see Him at work on His masterpiece, unveiled. We may be a work in progress BUT WHAT A WORK! WHAT A MIRACLE! “And he has made everything beautiful in its time…” Eccl. 3:11 (NIV). An unveiled face allows us to reflect His glory not our own.
Then, we simply need to reflect His image… being careful not to create Him in ours! Gen 1:26 tells us that we were made in His image. We were made to reflect that image; His likeness, His glory, to the world around us… but like the Israelites (in Ex 32) we can get distracted making God in our own image, because we don’t want to wait for the Master to finish His work or we don’t trust the process so we try to take over! The problem is, if we’re making God in our image then when we’re reflecting or becoming like isn’t Him!
Are we reflecting a god we made rather than the God who made us (Rom 1:25 MSG)? Is that why we have trouble trusting Him? Because we’ve made Him like us…a little inconsistent, a bit moody, occasionally judgmental or insecure… maybe the god we’ve made has unspoken conditions and expectations, and favourites… he’s generally good and has the right heart but isn’t perfect so not 100% faithful or trustworthy!!! Maybe we don’t want to unveil our faces because we think that’s the god we’re reflecting!! The god we made rather than the one true God, who made us… and made us to be like Him!
He is not like us. He is only ever altogether good and right and just and true. We were created to be like Him. He became like one of us to show us what He’d look like in the flesh, and that is the image we need to reflect! We are His reflection and the reflection can’t change the true figure. In fact it’s the true figure that transforms the reflection… all the reflection does is reflect! The mirror doesn’t clean itself, nor does it hide the cleaning process. We are His workmanship, created in His Image, and we need only to reflect it and allow people to see the Master’s work and the Master at work.
So stay close – the reflection is much clearer in close proximity – and stay changing – not by might nor by power but by His Spirit. 2Cor 3:16-17 says, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom,” and that’s how “we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
“I am changed and changing still.”
Hillsong College Principal